• Institutionalize, finance and celebrate the work of immigrant integration in local systems.

  • Advocate for, advance, monitor and evaluate immigrant-friendly policies, programs and practices throughout the region that foster an inclusive culture and welcoming environment for immigrants and refugees.


1. Leadership: Create the Office for Immigrant Advancement (OIA) to institutionalize and elevate immigrant integration policies, programs and practices in San Diego. 1


  • Welcome newcomers and facilitate successful integration of immigrants and refugees into San Diego’s civic, economic and social fabric.
  • Foster positive interactions between native-born and foreign-born residents.


  • Within the first year of the strategic plan (fiscal year 2020), with expansion of budget in subsequent years as proven to be effective:
    • Appoint a senior advisor on immigrant integration.
    • Form a permanent cross-sector task force by building on the Welcoming San Diego stakeholders.
    • Fund additional personnel, fellows, interns and programs via municipal budget, philanthropic and intergovernmental resources.


  • Provide leadership and coordination for a broad range of stakeholders to identify and implement common aspirations and strategies that further advance the region for all residents.
  • Promote, assess and strengthen the contributions of New Americans through communications, leadership development and civic engagement initiatives.
  • Coordinate and streamline services that reduce barriers for immigrants and refugees and build relationships with various public and private systems and institutions to advocate for immigrants’ needs and interests.
  • Evaluate and improve the implementation of language access, translation and interpretation processes for government services and other key systems.
  • Convene regular ethnic media roundtables with the government officials to dialogue directly with non-English constituents.
  • Represent and promote San Diego’s immigrant communities and immigrant integration practices in national coalitions (Cities for Citizenship; Cities for Action, U.S. Conference of Mayors), certifications processes (Certified Welcoming Cities) and conferences (National Immigrant Integration Conference).

2. Finance: Increase and diversify financing models to meet the diverse needs of newcomers, to sustain integration systems and to cultivate partnerships. 2

  • Launch a fund comprised of resources from public, private and philanthropic sectors to provide grants and microloans toward immediate immigrant integration goals (0-3 years) in language acquisition, job-readiness, re-credentialing, essential social and legal services – with local government providing grants, policy direction and oversight.
  • Collaborate with banks, social impact investors and philanthropy on increasing funding toward later stage of immigrant integration (3-10 years): entrepreneurial capital, higher education loans and naturalization assistance for individuals; and capital for sustaining immigrant-serving organizations and growing immigrant-owned businesses.
  • Introduce “migrant lens investing” to San Diego-based investors as a process that incorporates migrant issues into responsible investment and impact investment analysis to enhance investment decision-making.
  • Establish pay-for-performance mechanisms such as social impact bonds to inject new investment and innovations in immigrant integration.

3. Narrative: Highlight stories of immigrants and welcoming communities through strategy convenings, agenda-setting in regional conversations and cultural celebrations.

  • Convene region-wide summit for stakeholders to discuss strategies, share best practices and collaborate on shared goals.
  • Ensure immigrant integration is a topic of focus in existing regional discussions such as economic development, education, health, philanthropy and planning.
  • Create region-wide marquee event that celebrates the accomplishments of immigrants and refugees in the areas of entrepreneurship, social impact, education and international engagement.
  • Create a festival and/or a series of cultural events, storytelling projects, community dialogues, place-making designs and art installations that highlight the immigrant heritage of San Diego’s neighborhoods and communities, especially during Immigrant Heritage Month & World Refugee Day (June), Welcoming Week/Citizenship Day (September), International Migrants Day (December) and naturalization ceremonies. 3
  • Host national conferences to welcome immigrant integration practitioners to San Diego and learn best practices from around the world (i.e., National Immigrant Integration Conference, Metropolis North America Migration Policy Forum, Welcoming America convenings).

4. Knowledge: Leverage data and implement evaluation measures to improve policies and practices on immigrant integration.

  • Publish the annual snapshot of New Americans and their local economic contributions, building on the February 2018 report by New American Economy. 4
  • Track key indicators such as educational attainment among children of immigrants, professional integration of immigrants and workforce trends to better inform programs and policies.
  • Learn comparative practices and policies among peer cities via tools such as the New American Economy Cities Index and other research initiatives. 5
  • Design attitudinal survey of immigrant well-being and the reception of immigrants among native-born communities (piloted during Welcoming San Diego planning process).
  • Assign the future Office of Immigrant Advancement (OIA) to work with the City’s Performance and Analytics Department, in collaboration with local research institutions on better data collection on San Diego’s immigrants and refugees, benchmarking, evaluation and accountability measures.6

Research: de Graauw, Els. 2018. “City Immigrant Affairs Offices in the United States: Taking Local Control of Immigrant Integration.” Pp. 168-181 in The Routledge Handbook of the Governance of Migration and Diversity in Cities.
Guide: Finance for Integration: Migrant Lens Investing (; Example: Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland: Social Impact Bonds for the Employment of Immigrants (
Local Example: Our Immigrant Story, San Diego Union-Tribune & New Americans Museum (
Example: New Americans in San Diego, New American Economy (
Example: New American Economy Cities Index (
6 Best Practice: Minnesota’s Department of Education and Economic Development with sub-group data such as ethnic groups, nativity, language spoken at home, etc. (